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Tropical Biodiversity and Field Methods


Admission requirements

The course is targeted at students with a Bachelor in Biology or equivalent degree, although we also accept a small proportion of BSc and PhD students. Priority will be given to students who show a strong motivation and interest to study tropical ecosystems.

Contact information

Coordinator: Dr. Jan N. Macher Email:


The course "Tropical Biodiversity and Field Methods" will provide a broad overview of tropical coastal ecosystems and coral reefs, with a focus on Southeast Asia and Lombok, Indonesia. Students will learn about practical aspects of doing field research in tropical coastal ecosystems and coral reefs, including experimental design, data analysis methods, theory of biodiversity data, and the application of biodiversity data in conservation. In addition, students will receive basic taxonomic overviews for taxa that are particularly relevant in tropical coastal ecosystems, and practice their identification based on reference collections and own collections to be made during fieldwork. The course will also introduce students to molecular methods such as DNA barcoding and metabarcoding for the integrative study of biodiversity. Students will learn how to collect and analyze molecular data, and how to integrate these methods with traditional field methods to improve biodiversity research in tropical coastal ecosystems and coral reefs.

The course will be held partly in Leiden, partly at a field station in Lombok, Indonesia. The field work will consist of (a) demonstrations of field methods and techniques, (b) short research projects carried out by small groups of students.

The course is a unique opportunity to get theoretical as well as practical instructions on tropical coastal ecosystems and coral reefs from a broad range of experienced lecturers, in a setting that allows you to interact informally and intensively with fellow students, including Indonesian ones, as well as more experienced researchers and field biologists. The course is an excellent preparation for fieldwork in tropical coastal ecosystems and coral reefs, as well as for biodiversity research. The course provides study credits and is also a coveted c.v.-item.

Learning goals

  • Demonstrate proficient knowledge of major concepts in tropical coastal and reef ecology.

  • Outline, describe, and identify important groups of tropical organisms.

  • Explain and discuss some of the challenges of human-nature conflict.

  • Design and execute a field study in the tropics.

  • Outline and consider the practical challenges of field studies and make decisions to mitigate them.

  • Present and discuss ideas, challenges, and results.

  • Collect, analyze and visualize data using appropriate methods.

  • Formulate and process feedback to improve scientific investigation.


The course will be from 10th June to 7th July 2024.

  • week 1 (Leiden): lectures, self-study

  • weeks 2, 3 and 4 (Lombok, Indonesia): practicals, demonstrations, short field research projects and active involvement in data collections, presentation of the results

Mode of instruction

The theoretical part of the course (in Leiden) will consist of lectures and self-study. The field work part (in Indonesia) will consist of demonstrations of field and research methods and techniques and short research projects carried out by small groups of students.

Assessment method

Students will be graded based on (i) an exam about the lectures in Leiden, (ii) their performance during fieldwork in Indoensia, and (iii) an oral presentation of their research project.


Lectures and practical information will be available on Brightspace


Prospective students should submit their CV and a short motivation letter and upload this on the following link. Deadline for application is: February 29th . Students will receive extra information, including possibilities for applying for funding.
Register through My Study map after being admitted through the application process.
Exchange and Study Abroad students, please see the Prospective students website for more information on how to apply.


**The costs include a course fee of €1500 which covers the following: **

  • Bus transport from and to Lombok International Airport

  • Accommodation in the Lombok Research Station

  • Food and drinks

  • Boat transfers

  • Field assistants

  • Fiel equipment

  • T-shirt, conservation fee

Other exspenses not part of the course fee:

  • Students will need to book and pay their own travel to (and, if necessary, accommodation in) Leiden and to Lombok (Indonesia)

  • Costs for insurances and personal medication (vaccinations, consult your own GP or travel clinic for this) are also to be borne by the students themselves.

Minimum 10 students, maximum 20 students.